Senior gift voting is upon the class of 2010.
The students on the senior gift advisory board who brainstorm ideas for the senior gift have envisioned four ideas: a tribute to retiring USC President Steven B. Sample, a solar thermal energy system for the Lyon Center pool, a Class of 2010 Internship Award or a van for the Volunteer Center.
Each gift is unique and has its own merit. Two of the gifts offer a plaque recognizing our contribution visibly to the student body. The others do not offer something as lasting and physically visible, but instead offer much more: a lasting impression and legacy.
Every dollar the class of 2010 donates for the internship award will be matched by the USC Office of Financial Aid; senior gift organizers expect approximately $20,000 in donations. This gift will fund highly qualified students in financial need in their unpaid internships and volunteering opportunities abroad. There are very few things as life-changing as serving and volunteering abroad or working an unpaid internship to gain job experience.
I know how drastically serving in China after its catastrophic earthquake in 2008 affected me. As the class of 2010, we can provide this sort of experience for many students to come.
President Sample is a man that I look up to very much. I am grateful for all he has done for this university: raising the standard in educational quality, drawing large endowment donations and attracting high-caliber students, all to further the prestige of USC.
But while we should pay tribute to the outgoing university president, I think Sample would prefer we employ our gift to helping others or further the campus as a whole. The senior class will have an opportunity to honor Sample at a celebration later this year.
A solar thermal heating system for our pool is a neat option, but it is the most detached. I am grateful for USC’s efforts to make our campus and university-wide carbon footprint smaller. Not only is this project scheduled to take place without our senior gift, but it has little influence on people’s lives. If our gift goes to the pool heater, it will account for at most 8 percent of the total cost of the green initiative.
Senior gift option number four is a van for the USC Volunteer Center. The Volunteer Center will use gift funding to purchase a van to take students without vehicles to volunteer opportunities in the surrounding community. Furthermore, the transportation service will bring neighboring community members to USC for on-campus programs.
This van is the only alternative to the internship award directed at influencing people and communities.
The tribute to Sample and the Lyon Center pool heater would both have much more tangible incarnations than the internship award or the van. When I initially read about the gift options, I wanted something that would flaunt “Class of 2010” somewhere on campus for everyone to see.
But as I considered the plaques of gifts from other classes in the past, I realized that I am disconnected from them; I see their plaque and appreciate their gift, yet I don’t experience any heart-felt connection to the class.
The internship award gives recognition to the class of 2010 with a named learning experience, and the van recognizes our class with the opportunity for continued community service. While these options may not have much physical recognition for the class, they do intimately connect our graduating class to those that will benefit from our contributions.
Instead of some student reading a plaque, a member of the community, student or someone in another country will have 2010 written on his heart as the class that blessed them. We will be the class that made it possible for someone to meet them and possibly serve them. We will be the class that made it possible for a student to go abroad and have a life-changing experience.
Ironically, in doing so, we will honor Sample’s legacy as well.
Let us be a class that offers our gift to the people, to the transformation of hearts and communities. Let us follow in the footsteps of President Sample and give back to the community and the students.
Jensen Carlsen is a senior majoring in mathematics and economics. His column “The Bridge” runs Wednesdays.